In Writing

It abashes me to me a cliche, yet at every one of my kids’ milestones I think, “They grow up so fast.”

Today is a Halloween for which I’ve been advised my services will not be required. No trolling the neighborhood with my cherubic offspring, in a gang of fellow town moms and their broods. No sorting candy afterwards. No carrying swords and fairy wands when the Viking or Tink gets too tired to drag them around. Obsolete. I actually made it longer than most. But here I am anyway.

My daughter got up this morning before me, in charge of her own destiny. She’d put together her costume with nearly no assistance from me save for the Halloween store run for the skeleton socks. She did her own face paint. Over was that stretch of three Halloweens in which she made me draw the same pattern of bats and spiders around her little-girl eyes, copying from pictures of the year before. She figured it all out on her own, then went to meet her friends at school early so she could do all their makeup too.

Even my little guy took initiative in putting together an ensemble. Ever the kid who craves comfort, he sought out a character that involved basically wearing street clothes: Indiana Jones. He dusted off khakis and refused to wear a button-down (although I showed him ample photographic evidence that that would be the authentic look), opting for a t-shirt instead. He topped the outfit off with something that gave me a particular twinge: the fabulous leather motorcycle jacket that his father wore on our first date. Back then that jacket made me swoon with moony, school-girlish infatuation. Today, it was strange to see it on someone who was a chubby infant a blink ago. Bonier and taller and less broad at the shoulders than his father, he didn’t fill it out, but it made him look grown up all the same. He is closer to the age that I was when I first saw that jacket than I am now.

So off I sent them into their individual celebrations to enjoy Halloween with their peers. I am both happy for them and acutely aware of just how short the time is that they belong to us, if they ever belong to us at all. Just when I was easing into my groove, the game changed again. They grow up so damn fast and I don’t care who hears me being a predictable old lady.

Halloween is sweet, but different. I think this is why people start craving grandchildren. I’m not quite there yet, but I get it. There is something so vital about having small children in one’s life. And something so bittersweet about seeing how little that lasts.

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